United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Greenwood Division
James L. Devlin, Plaintiff,
Officer Tye Nalley; Officer Noe Sudduth, Defendant.
Timothy M. Cain United States District Judge
a prisoner proceeding pro se, filed this civil action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In accordance with 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Civil Rule 73.02, D.S.C.,
this matter was referred to a magistrate judge for pretrial
handling. Before the court is the magistrate judge's
Report and Recommendation (“Report”) (ECF No.
63), recommending that the court grant Defendants' motion
for summary judgment (ECF No. 43) and deny Plaintiff's
motion for jury trial (ECF No. 54). Plaintiff was advised of
his right to file objections to the Report. (ECF No. 63 at
6). Plaintiff filed objections to the Report. (ECF No. 72).
recommendations set forth in the Report has no presumptive
weight and the responsibility to make a final determination
in this matter remains with this court. See Mathews v.
Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). The court is charged
with making a de novo determination of those portions of the
Reports to which specific objection is made, and the court
may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the
recommendation of the magistrate judge, or recommit the
matter with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
However, the court need not conduct a de novo review when a
party makes only “general and conclusory objections
that do not direct the court to a specific error in the
magistrate's proposed findings and
recommendations.” Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d
44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). In the absence of a timely filed,
specific objection, the magistrate judge's conclusions
are reviewed only for clear error. See Diamond v.
Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315
(4th Cir. 2005).
magistrate judge summarized the facts of this action in his
Report. (ECF No. 63). Briefly, Plaintiff was arrested and
jailed following a domestic incident on March 16, 2016 and
charged with criminal domestic violence, second degree;
burglary, second degree; and two counts of assault and
battery, third degree. Pickens County 13th Judicial Circuit
(enter “James L. Devlin” and “search,
” click on “2016A3920700042, ”
“2016A3920700043, ” “2016A3920700044,
” “2016A3920700045, ” and click
“Charges”). Plaintiff alleges defendants Noe
Sudduth and Tye Nalley (collectively, the
“Officers”) falsely imprisoned him and violated
his Miranda rights. (ECF Nos. 1 at 2-4 and 1-2 at 4,
6). As noted above, Plaintiff seeks relief pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983.
complaint originally included Magistrate Judge Judy Melanie
Davis and the Pickens Police Department as defendants (ECF
No. 1); however, the court ordered their dismissal from the
case on May 23, 2016 (ECF No. 22). On August 22, 2016,
remaining defendants Noe Sudduth and Tye Nalley moved for
summary judgment. (ECF No. 43). On October 18, 2016,
Plaintiff filed a response (ECF No. 54) to which defendants
filed a reply on October 28, 2016 (ECF No. 59). On November
18, 2016, defendants filed a supplement (ECF No. 62) to their
motion for summary judgment to notify the court that
Plaintiff pled guilty to the criminal domestic violence,
second degree charge. Before the court is the magistrate
judge's Report on Defendants' motion for summary
judgment (ECF No. 63) and Plaintiff's motion for jury
trial (ECF No. 54).
than containing specific objections to the magistrate
judge's findings, Plaintiff's objections largely
restate his claims and assert his innocence of the crimes.
However, Plaintiff does not dispute that he pled guilty to
Criminal Domestic Violence, Second Degree or Burglary, Second
Degree on October 17, 2016. Pickens County 13th Judicial
Circuit Public Index,
(enter “James L. Devlin” and “search,
” click on “2016A3920700042, ”
“2016A3920700043.”) (“Pickens County Public
Index”). The court is able to glean that Plaintiff
objects to the findings in the Report on two grounds. First,
Plaintiff alleges that the magistrate judge erred in finding
that probable cause existed because there was no evidence to
show that a burglary or assault took place and the warrants
were based on lies. Second, Plaintiff argues that his
Miranda rights were not read to him.
review, the court finds that Defendants are entitled to
summary judgment on Plaintiff's false arrest claim
because probable cause existed for the arrest of Plaintiff
supported by the evidence, Plaintiff's indictment by a
grand jury, and Plaintiff's convictions on underlying
offenses. Defendants' evidence supporting probable cause
included Sudduth's affidavit and reports describing his
actions in responding to the incident on March 16, 2016 and
eyewitness accounts of Plaintiff's
behavior. (ECF No. 43-2, 43-3 through 43-9).
“Probable cause to justify an arrest arises when
‘facts and circumstances within the officer's
knowledge . . . are sufficient to warrant a prudent person,
or one of reasonable caution, in believing, in the
circumstances shown, that the suspect has committed, is
committing, or is about to commit an offense.'”
Porterfield v. Lott, 156 F.3d 563, 569 (4th Cir.
1998) (quoting Michigan v. DeFillippo, 443 U.S. 31,
37 (1979)). “It is an objective standard of probability
that reasonable and prudent persons apply in everyday life,
” and requires more than “bare suspicion”
but requires less than evidence necessary to convict.
United States v. Gray, 137 F.3d 765, 769 (4th Cir.
1998). In this case, the standard was met by Defendants.
a grand jury indictment is affirmative evidence of probable
cause sufficient to defeat claims of false arrest or
malicious prosecution under § 1983. See Provet v.
South Carolina, C.A. No. 6:07-1094-GRA-WMC, 2007 WL
1847849, at *5 (D.S.C. June 25, 2007). Defendants attached
grand jury indictments of Plaintiff to Defendants' motion
for summary judgment. (ECF No. 43-10). Additionally,
conviction on a charge, in and of itself, may establish
probable cause for purposes of a false arrest claim. See,
e.g., Powers v. Sickler, C.A. No. 93-617, 1995 WL
146272, at *5, *11 (N.D.N.Y. Mar. 31, 1995) (“[A]
conviction is conclusive evidence of probable cause”);
Konon v. Fomal, 612 F.Supp. 68, 71 (D. Conn. 1985)
(“It is clear that if the plaintiff had been convicted
of either of the crimes with which he was charged, or of any
lesser included offenses, this would be conclusive proof of
probable cause”). Plaintiff pled guilty to his domestic
violence and burglary charges on October 17, 2016.
See Pickens County Public Index. Finally, to the
extent that Plaintiff's objections could be liberally
construed to allege a claim of malicious prosecution,
claim fails because the charge has not been resolved in his
favor. See Burrell v. Virginia, 395 F.3d
508, 514 (4th Cir. 2005). Based on the above, Plaintiff's
objection is without merit and Defendants are entitled to
objection due to alleged Miranda rights violations
lacks merit because a § 1983 action is an improper means
for claiming a Miranda violation. See Chavez v.
Martinez, 538 U.S. 760, 123 S.Ct. 1994, 155 L.Ed.2d 984
(2003). “Miranda warnings are a procedural
safeguard rather than a right explicitly stated in the Fifth
Amendment. The remedy for a Miranda violation is the
exclusion from evidence of any ensuing self-incriminating
statements. The remedy is not a § 1983 action.”
Neighbour v. Covert, 68 F.3d 1508, 1510 (2d Cir.
1995) (per curiam) (internal citations omitted); Warren
v. City of Lincoln, Neb., 864 F.2d 1436, 1442 (8th Cir.
1989) (“[T]he remedy for a Miranda violation
is the exclusion from evidence of any compelled
self-incrimination, not a section 1983 action.”).
Plaintiff's allegation of a Miranda violation is
not actionable under § 1983, thus, his objection is